(The Bible) is the best-selling, most influential book in history. It has been banned, burned, smuggled, fought for, lived for, and even died for, and yet many of us hardly know what’s in it.
- Phil Vischer (creator of What’s in the Bible)
“Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
- Isaac Asimov, science fiction writer
I’ve been a Christian for most of my life. I’ve been through countless Sunday School classes and Christian summer camps, which means that I’ve seen more than my share of Christian-themed videos. Some depicted Bible stories, others were about Christian morals, and some even managed to squeeze in a Bible verse or two.
However, I’ve seen nothing quite like this series. It all centers around one core idea – take the entire Bible, from beginning to end, explain it as simply and completely as possible for anyone who happens to watch it, and entertain them while doing it. The result is “Buck Denver Asks: What’s In The Bible?”, a 13 DVD series of hour-long videos.
Buck Denver, like most of the characters on the show, is a puppet, which may give you the impression that this is entirely a preschool show. Fortunately, that’s not the case: while it does go through the classic Sunday School stories like David & Goliath or the parting of the Red Sea, it goes through plenty of higher concepts too, such as how the canon of the Bible was decided, or the relevance of old Jewish laws for Christians today. It also doesn’t shy away from asking the difficult questions: why is there so much killing in the Old Testament? Why would a loving God allow sin?
While this kind of subject matter would seem dry or depressing at first glance, the show does a good job of keeping things light through witty characters (brother adventurers Clive and Ian being my personal favourites). And, to keep things on track, the show never fails to mention that the Bible is actually all about a single story: the fall of man from a state of perfection, and God’s rescue plan of redemption.
Admittedly, the show is not without its faults. Some of the humour does fall flat, and the song quality varies greatly. It also lacks a good female presence: while four of the show’s puppet characters are female, only one of them shows up with much frequency. (The lack of a female presence didn’t exactly hurt the popularity of The Muppets, but it is worth mentioning.)
When I read the news, it’s interesting to see both non-Christians and Christians are encouraging people to read the Bible, albeit with different motives. Many non-Christians believe that people only talk about the Bible as “the good book” out of ignorance, and that if they truly read the book, they’d see it for what it really is. On the other hand, many Christians believe that within the Bible are the keys for people to find life’s meaning and true joy, and groups such as the Gideons hand out thousands of Bibles for free just to get the word out.
In the midst of it all, there’s “What’s in the Bible”, doing its best to introduce as many people as possible to what the Bible is and why it matters. And although the series isn’t completely finished yet (as of this writing, DVD 10 was just released), I’m pretty impressed with how well it’s doing it.